Monthly Archives: November 2022


I am glad I saw the television series Unorthodox before I read the book of the same name that inspired it- the memoir of Deborah Feldman. In the filmed version Deborah’s role is played by a very talented actress Shira Haas and her name is not Deborah but Esty.

The series and book are about an orthodox Jewish woman living in New York who leaves her strict Hasidic community in order to start a new life for herself.

The television series begins in a dramatic fashion as Esty is planning her daring escape. The viewer’s interest is engaged almost immediately.

By contrast I found the book’s opening chapters somewhat slow as Feldman gives a long first person narration of her life as a child. She has been raised by her grandparents.

In the book Deborah has a child of her own when she leaves the community. In the film version Esty is pregnant.

I will be honest and say that while I greatly admire Deborah Feldman for what she did in seeking a new life where she would no longer live with the oppression of her misogynist religious community I felt more empathy and connection with Esty the character in the movie.

I also liked the way the film version portrayed the other characters in a more balanced way so we could see their positive traits and their struggles and understand why they acted as they did. In the movie version there weren’t strict ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys’ the way there seemed to be in the book.

Perhaps I was also influenced by the fact that after I read Unorthodox I found many criticisms of the book online written by people who knew Deborah Feldman and her family and say she distorted and embellished and some cases outright lied about her past experiences.

In the film version one does not need to worry about authenticity because it is first and foremost a dramatic story. As the advertising for the television series makes clear it is only loosely based on Deborah Feldman’s book.

I would highly recommend the television series Unorthodox. If you have to choose to either watch it or read the book I’d definitely watch the series.

Other posts……..

Movie or Book? The Hate You Give

Six Things Jane Austen Movies and Books Have in Common

A Violent Movie About A Violent Story

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Filed under Books, Media, Religion

Do I Need to State My Personal Pronouns?

We are getting new identification tags at my place of work and we have the option to have our preferred pronouns on the tag. Would we like to be referred to as she/her, he/him, they/them or in some other way?

I realize that for some people particularly in the transgender or non-binary communities this is important. But should someone like me who is cisgender, which means I identify with the sex assigned me at birth, list my personal pronouns as well?

I’ve been reading about this to learn more as I decide whether to have my preferred pronouns she/her listed on my name tag.

I have discovered that listing my pronouns can be a way for me to show I’m aware that pronouns are important and I understand that we all need to be thoughtful about the pronouns we use to address others.

Stating my pronouns on my employment badge can send a message that I don’t assume someone’s pronouns but rather I respect the idea that people should be addressed in the way they see themselves and choose to be seen.

Sharing my pronouns can normalize the practice so those who are in the gender diverse community don’t have to feel like they are in the minority when they do so.

Displaying my pronouns is also a way to show gender-marginalized people that I am an ally. By putting my pronouns on my identification badge I can send a message to trans or non-binary people that they are in a safe space when they are with me.

I did read a number of articles however, by both people in the 2SLGBTQ+ and cisgender communities, that say no one should feel pressure to publicly share their preferred pronouns. It is up to each individual to decide what they feel comfortable doing.

I’ve decided I do feel comfortable having my pronouns listed so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I will be the first to admit I often struggle with getting people’s pronouns straight in conversation especially if a person’s pronouns change and I have to refer to them in different ways than I did before. Perhaps clearly displaying pronouns can help us all to be more respectful and mindful of one another’s choices.

Other posts………

Pride in Steinbach Isn’t Something New

Proud of the New Words in Canada’s National Anthem

Many Women Are Pastors But Our Language Still Excludes Them


Filed under Culture, Education, Introductions, Language

The Christmas Books

Yesterday on the first Sunday of advent each of our grandchildren got a Christmas book and a pair of Christmas socks from their grandfather and me.

Every November I enjoy looking at children’s books for the holiday season old and new and picking just the right one for each grandchild.

A huge thank you to my online middle grade author community who brought The Vanderbeekers by Karina Yan Glaser to my attention. It was the book I chose for my ten-year-old grandson. A lively family with five children finds out just before Christmas they are about to be evicted from their brownstone apartment in Harlem. The kids begin a campaign to convince their grouchy landlord Mr. Beiderman to change his mind. They get pretty creative!

Dasher a New York Times bestseller by Matt Tavares was my choice for my six-year-old grandson. Dasher is a young doe whose family works and travels under the hot sun with the circus. Dasher’s mother tells her daughter stories about her own very different childhood. She lived where the ground was covered with snow and her family could see the glow of the North Star. Dasher runs away and follows the North Star. When she meets Santa a whole new life begins for her.

For my three-year-old granddaughter I chose Happy All-Days by Cindy Jin which introduces readers to all the different winter holidays that different families from different backgrounds and cultures celebrate including Christmas and Chanukah and Kwanzaa.

I thought I knew all of Robert Munsch’s books but I had never read Finding Christmas which is told in his usual engaging style with a funny twist at the end. The book is illustrated by Munsch’s long time collaborator Michael Martchenko.

For my youngest grandchild who just turned two I picked The Christmas Baby by Marion Dane Bauer. It tells the traditional nativity story but relates the birth of Jesus to the birth of every child.

Perhaps my favourite pick this Christmas is I’m Going to Give You a Polar Bear Hug written by Caroline Cooney and illustrated by Tim Warnes. With lovely lilting rhyming text it tells the story of a child who gets hugs from all kinds of winter animals- a reindeer, a polar bear, a fox, an arctic hare, a penguin and a seal.

My other grandchildren live in Saskatchewan but the youngest is here in Winnipeg so I got to read I’m Going to Give You a Polar Bear Hug to her yesterday and she smiled and named the animals along with me and asked to read it again when we were done. Clearly a winner!

Other posts………….

Christmas Books- 2019

Advent Books- 2020

Christmas Classics for Kids

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Filed under Books, Childhood, Holidays

I Wasn’t Excited About This Movie But It Was Lovely

My husband Dave has been wanting me to watch the movie Phantom of the Open for awhile now but I wasn’t that excited. Finally this past week after Dave had cheerfully viewed Mrs. Harris Goes To Paris at my request I agreed to watch Phantom of the Open with him.

And……….I throughly enjoyed the movie! It made me laugh and cry. It’s an absolutely heartwarming story about a crane operator from Glasgow, Scotland, Maurice Flitcroft (don’t you just love that name) who has a dream to play golf in the British Open. And he does, even though he’s never played golf before and doesn’t even own a set of clubs.

The whole thing would seem like a kind of crazy but delightful fairy tale if you didn’t know the film is actually based on a true story. Maurice is played by Mark Rylance and he’ll steal your heart in his argyle golf vest and funky red bucket hat.

There is some stellar acting in the film. I especially enjoyed the performance of Sally Hawkins. (You may remember her from her stunning role as Canadian artist Maud Lewis in the movie Maudie). She plays Maurice’s wife Jean and never loses faith in him. Her life hasn’t been champagne and caviar and diamonds the way Maurice promised when he proposed but she recognizes the value in the love and loyalty he has given her and their children for so many decades.

This film pokes fun at all the rules and regulations and etiquette of the golf establishment which has been pretty exclusive in the past. I liked that.

We learn that following your dreams can be difficult and costly and create plenty of conflict but in the end the love and support of your family is really all that matters.

If you are looking for a feel good movie chock full of nostalgic 70s and 80s songs this is the film for you.

Other posts………

Romance on the Golf Course

I Did the Limbo on the Golf Course

A Prayer for a Golf Tournament

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Filed under Movies, Sports

Winnipeg Welcomes the World

During the ten years I have worked at the Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq I have given tours to visitors from around the world.

I made a map with stars showing all the places the people on my tours came from last week

But this last week during the five days I worked at the gallery I think I set some sort of record for international visitors. This morning I sat down to list all the countries the participants on this week’s tours came from.

Central America -Mexico and Guatemala

Asia -Japan, China, Korea and Thailand

The Caribbean- Jamaica and Barbados

Africa- The Ivory Coast and Somalia

South America- Chile

The Middle East- Iraq and Afghanistan

Europe- Italy, Belgium, France, England

North America- Canada

Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop’s unique artwork showing the Manitoba Legislative Building at the Forks

This past week made me realize……..

Winnipeg really is a world class destination that attracts people from across the globe

International travel is back after its pandemic hiatus

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is an important place for people from other places to learn about Canada and its culture and history

Other posts……….

A Dream Day At Work

Oh What Fun!

What’s a Portscape?

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Filed under Art, Winnipeg, winnipeg art gallery

Safe Injection Sites

Photo by Alex Koch on

Should we have safe injection sites for drug users in our province? The current Conservative government says they believe such sites aren’t effective and may produce unintended negative consequences for the community.

Instead, they want to pursue a recovery-oriented approach and are promising to create up to a thousand new beds in drug treatment centres. The Conservatives have yet to give a timeline for when this expansion will happen or reveal how much money they will commit to the initiative. 

The New Democratic Party has promised to open safe injection sites if they are elected next fall. They call on the government to establish a panel of experts on addictions to provide guidance on the best way to address the current drug crisis.  

The two major political parties are offering different views on how to handle the drug addiction wave that is at the heart of so many other problems in our province including homelessness, poverty, and crime. Who is right? 

An October 5th article in The Scientific American cites research that indicates safe injection sites around the world reduce the risk of overdose, death, and the spread of infectious diseases. They increase public safety because addicts aren’t shooting up in public places like parks and libraries.   Supervisors at injection sites have an opportunity to offer users counselling and encourage them to pursue long-term solutions to their addictions. 

A safe injection site in Vancouver- photo Vancouver Coastal Health

Manitoba’s Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Sarah Guillemard disagrees. After visiting safe injection sites in Vancouver, she doesn’t think they are the best way to help those with addictions. 

Interestingly a Los Angeles Times reporter Anita Chabria who went to Vancouver in May to investigate the safe injection sites there came up with a different opinion.  The state of California was considering opening safe injection sites, so Chabria’s newspaper sent her to Vancouver to do the story.

Chabria says what she saw there left her convinced safe injection sites are necessary in order to prevent death and disease even though longer-term solutions must be found.  Chabria admits visiting the Vancouver injection sites was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching. 

Last year I watched a documentary called The Meaning of Empathy. It told the story of the opioid crisis ravaging the Kainai First Nation in Alberta. Esther Tailfeathers a doctor there believes both harm reduction methods and detox and treatment centres are necessary. 

A public demonstration in support of safe injection sites- photo by Mikaela MacKenzie / Winnipeg Free Press

That’s also the view of Shohan Illsley executive director of the Manitoba Harm Reduction Network which held a round dance at a busy Winnipeg intersection last week to highlight the need for safe injection sites in Manitoba. She said the Conservative government’s plans for increased treatment beds at some point in the future are a good thing but they won’t save lives today. Last year over 400 Manitobans lost their lives to drug overdoses. 

In the United States, only 30% of the public believes safe injection sites are a good idea.  In Canada, the rate is closer to 60%.  Why the difference?  More Americans buy into the notion that drug use is a moral failing while more Canadians understand substance abuse is a disease often connected to inherited genetic factors. 

Photo by Nick Youngson

The Conservative government is to be commended for recognizing the need to address the addiction crisis in our province.  Hopefully, their plan to increase treatment spaces will be carried out in a timely, adequately-funded way. But it would seem the New Democratic Party also has a point when they say safe injection sites are needed in our province.  The funding of both approaches may be wisest if we want to save lives and change futures. 

Other posts……..

She Had A Baseball Bat

I Slept Right Through It

From the Ashes and Getting Fired


Filed under Health

The Light We Carry

Amanda Gorman ended the poem she wrote for President Biden’s inauguration ceremony, with the words

For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.

If only we’re brave enough to be it.

I was reminded of Amanda Gorman’s inspiring challenge when I read the title of Michelle Obama’s new book The Light We Carry. In it the former First Lady says we all carry light and we need to share it, reaching out to genuinely connect with others and together doing the work to change the future.

Amanda Gorman talks about being brave enough to ‘be the light’ and really that’s what Mrs Obama is addressing in her book. She looks at what things can prevent us from sharing our light and how can we overcome those things. Here are just four of the things she says can stand in our way of ‘being light’.

Michelle Obama watching as her husband is sworn in as President for the first time

Don’t let fear stand in your way.

When her husband wanted to run for president he put the decision squarely in his wife’s lap. His family meant more to him than political office and if Michelle told him not to run he wouldn’t. Mrs Obama said she was utterly terrified at that point, incredibly fearful about what her husband’s possible presidency would do to their family, in particular her daughters.

What would have happened if she hadn’t overcome her fear?

She encourages readers to be comfortably afraid. “Be afraid of the things that can actually cause you danger, but be open to the things that can push you forward – there’s real powerful growth on the other side of that feeling of fear.

Michelle and Barack Obama with Queen Elizabeth in 2009 – Photo from Women’s Wear Daily

Don’t let physical challenges stand in your way.

Michelle Obama’s father had multiple sclerosis and in her book, she tells us his story emphasizing the way he never let his chronic illness stand in the way of providing a loving home and a strong, supportive family for his children.

She also talks about the way her physical height has set her apart and made her feel unattractive. She bemoans the fact that so many women are critical of their own physical appearance and uncomfortable with how they look. It is something she works at overcoming every day and encourages other women to learn to love themselves for who they are.

Mrs Obama knitting- photo by Merone Hailemeskel

Don’t let anxiety and worry stand in your way.

Mrs Obama talks about how the pandemic caused her chronic worry tendencies to bloom and flourish. One way she coped with that was to take up knitting. She says crafts like knitting can ease stress and help you escape from a negative mental space. Knitting helped her discover “how fulfilling it can be to turn small stitches into something big and beautiful”.

Michelle Obama speaks at the 2016 Democratic National Convention- photo by Anthony Behar

Don’t let your critics stand in your way.

Mrs Obama has had plenty of critics. She says that no matter how calm she tried to be, no matter how hard she worked as the First Lady, no matter how friendly she was or how often she opened the White House to everyone, certain people continued to portray her as an aggressive angry black woman unworthy of their respect.

In her famous speech at the 2016 Democratic Convention Michelle Obama coined the phrase, “when they go low, we go high,” as a way to respond to critics. She still believes that is true but reminds readers that the phrase does nothing if we only repeat it. It means committing ourselves to do the hard work it takes to bring about a brighter future and overcoming the influence of those who spread negativity.

There were so many nuggets of wisdom I collected from The Light We Carry and so many ways Michelle Obama’s experience connected with my own. I am sure you will find that same wisdom and sense of connection when you read her very relatable book.

Other posts………

5 Thoughts on the Netflix Documentary Becoming

It’s Harder To Hate Up Close

The House With the Obama Chair

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Filed under Books, People

What’s a Glyph?

I play the game Wordle every morning and like many fans had a hard time solving the puzzle last Friday. The solution was ‘glyph’ and many people were complaining on social media that it was too uncommon a word and shouldn’t have been used.

I did know what a glyph was and immediately thought of some examples of glyphs I had in my photo collection. For those who may not be familiar with the word glyph, the Merriam Webster dictionary offers two definitions.

A symbolic figure or a character (as in the Mayan system of writing) usually incised or carved in relief

As it turns out I had a perfect example for the first definition because at a museum we toured in Merida Mexico we could have our birthdate printed out in Mayan hieroglyphics. This was mine.

The second definition of a glyph is…….. a symbol that conveys information non-verbally.

Turns out I had the perfect photo for that definition too. This was the label on a men’s washroom door in a ryokan we stayed at in Kyoto Japan. All the information you need is right there. No words are needed to explain this sign.

Here are some other glyphs I’ve photographed.

I photographed this fish symbol for Christianity at the catacombs we toured in Rome.

I photographed this calligrapher in Stanley Market in Hong Kong as he wrote my name in Chinese symbols.

I photographed these petroglyphs while hiking the Hieroglyphic Trail in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona

I photographed this skull and crossbones symbol that warned of landmines on a visit to Cambodia.

I photographed these 10,000-year-old petroglyphs on a grandfather rock near Hershel Saskatchewan when I was touring the Ancient Echos museum site there.

I photographed this sign for a school zone in obvious need of repair outside a school in St. Ann’s Bay Jamaica.

I photographed these petroglyphs on a rock at Taliesin the former estate of architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Scottsdale, Arizona.

I photographed this symbol on the jeep of the tour company that took us on a four-hour trek to learn all about cork and how it is grown and harvested in Portugal. The owner of the tour company is a fan of the children’s book Ferdinand the Bull. In the story, the bull sits under a cork tree and we see an allusion to that story in the symbol.

I wasn’t upset as many Wordle fans were when the word on Friday was ‘glyph.’ I was interested however and had fun looking for photos of glyphs I’d seen.

Other posts………..

Spending the day with Antonio and Jose

The Catacombs- Myth and Reality

Discovering A Grandfather Rock

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Filed under Language

A Life Line Then and Now

On Saturday the New York Times Magazine ran a story about how vital the railway system in Ukraine has been to the war effort. The article was titled The 15,000 Mile Lifeline and talked about the heroism of the country’s 230,000 rail employees who often at great risk to themselves have somehow under the most challenging of conditions kept rail travel open as their country is under siege.

They have provided free passage to hundreds of thousands of evacuees fleeing war torn areas and brought 140,000 tons of food, and 300,000 tons of other relief supplies into the country distributing them to communities in need. They have moved weapons and goods and soldiers and kept Ukraine’s mail system in business moving over 3 million parcels.

My husband viewing the Ukrainian countryside from the window of our train

When my husband and I visited Ukraine we saw the country via that railroad. As we traveled from Kyiv to Zaporozhye to Lviv and Odessa we always went by train. Every train we took was on time and the service was efficient and pleasant. It was a great way to see the country.

It was also via train that some 20,000 Mennonites left Ukraine in the 1920s to immigrate to North America fleeing war and famine.

My husband’s mother’s family just before leaving Ukraine from the Lichtenau train station.

My paternal grandparents, my husbands maternal and paternal grandparents, and his own parents who were small children at the time, all got out Ukraine via the train.

My husband stands beside the tracks at the Lichtenau Train Station in Ukraine where his grandparents began their long immigration journey to Canada

Our relatives all left the country from the Lichtenau Train Station and when we were in Ukraine we visited it.

We sit on a bench outside the train station in Ukraine that served as our grandparentsdeparture point from the country

In the 1920s the railway system in Ukraine provided a life line to thousands just as it is doing now a century later.

Other posts……….

Ten Things I Can Do About the War in Ukraine

A Sad Memory At Winnipeg’s City Hall

Thinking of Kyiv

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Filed under Ukraine

Single Young Women Are the Problem

“These women need to get married,” said Fox television commentator Jesse Waters as findings from the exit polls in the recent American election were being discussed. Waters was referring to the fact that single women in the United States voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. Another finding from the exit polls was that young people voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates.

Waters proposal for getting those single young women to vote Republican was to get them married to men. Marriage to a man would bring these radical women to their senses.

Political commentator Mollie Hemingway went even further. She blamed the lack of support for the Republicans among single young women on the Democrats. She claimed the Democrats support of abortion rights and LGBTQ rights had encouraged women not to marry men and have children with them.

Chart from the Washington Examiner

Writing about the voting patterns of American young women in the Washington Examiner another conservative political commentator said women’s independence and equality is to blame for the decline in the marriage rate and this is a bad thing for the country and its future. Is he suggesting we need to curtail women’s equality and independence?

Can you believe that in the year 2022 there are still people who think this way? It boggles the mind and is frankly pretty scary.

To me it makes perfect sense why the vote was skewed along gender and age lines. If you are a single female parent struggling to get by you won’t vote for a party that wants to cut social services, take away your affordable medical plan and force you to have another child you can’t support financially.

If you are a young single woman who has just graduated from university or college of course you will vote for the party that wants to help you with your student loans, so you can start your career without crippling debt.

Although I couldn’t find particular statistics for single young women in Canada we have a definite gender divide when it comes to voting. The Liberal Party gets twice as many votes from women as the Conservatives do. Now why would that be?

Other posts……….

Why Do Men and Women Vote Differently?

Mandatory Voting

An Important Day for Canadian Women


Filed under Politics